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Released as a promo-only device around the time of the U.S. release of Sleeper's debut album, B-Sides not only offered up a sharp introduction to the past career of Brit-pop's latest invader, it also justified all the breathlessly excited remarks that were floating across the Atlantic. "Inbetweeners," the band's first major British hit, remains one of the most realistic portrayals of love among the great unwashed ever set to music, and its inclusion here heightened awareness of a song that might otherwise have laid buried within Smart. For American fans and collectors, however, the real meat lies within the other four tracks, British B-sides that would never otherwise see an American release. While the opening "Ha Ha You're Dead" reached back to the band's 1993 debut release, the Alice EP, and sticks out like a sore thumb accordingly, "Little Annie" and "Disco Duncan" were both carved from the U.K. "Inbetweener" B-sides; "Hymn to Her" was culled from the follow-up Vegas EP. All are as sharp and sassy as the album material, but listen closely and you can hear Wener already streaking ahead of Smart, flexing the lyrical muscle that would transform the band's next album, The It Girl, into one of the masterpieces of the decade. It's just a shame that Sleeper themselves could never progress from there.

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